Looking broadly and deeply into perspectives of local climate change impacts among visitors to Missouri state parks
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Missouri's outdoor recreation resources provide numerous mental, physical, and social values to millions of people each year and serve as a major contributor to the statewide economy. However, climate change threatens these benefits. This project sought to explore climate change perceptions and place attachment of outdoor enthusiasts in Missouri as a step toward managing natural and cultural resources for ongoing climate resilience. This study used interviews and a statewide visitor survey to measure climate change impacts on visitors to Missouri's state parks and historic sites. The dissertation is formatted in three manuscripts. The first manuscript assessed how engaged state park users perceive climate change impacts and what they view as the agency role in climate change mitigation, education, and communication. The second manuscript identified health concerns related to climate change and examined how these concerns affect park use. The final manuscript examined the role of place attachment in determining visitors' willingness to engage in climate friendly behavior and support for management action to minimize climate-change impacts. Overall findings suggested climate-change related management challenges and provided evidence for visitor support for education and action. Opportunities were identified for state park managers to take action toward locally-oriented climate change mitigation, education and communication. Place attachment dimensions were affirmed as tools for engaging visitors in climate-related actions, both in and beyond park settings.
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